Monday, 29 November 2021

GoWine Gourmet Tourism Project Presents Zagreb County Wine Roads

November 29, 2021 - The first phase of the Gourmet tourism project - GoWine - was presented in Samobor. It includes the tourist boards of Jastrebarsko, Samobor, and Sveti Ivan Zelina with the approval of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports and the support of the Zagreb County Tourist Board.

In the first phase of the Gourmet tourism project GoWine, a map of wine roads was made in a circulation of 5,000 copies, followed by the website www.gowine.hr, the corresponding logo, and an application for an interactive virtual walkthrough of the wine roads. This is the result of several tourist boards carrying out activities together to develop a tourist product and promote the destination, reports HRTurizam.

The GoWine website and an interactive map provide an overview of all members of the three wine roads from Zagreb County, the availability of their direct contacts, and navigation to each of the wineries.

"Zagreb and Zagreb County form a space through which a large number of visitors, businesses, and tourists pass during one year, and the local population often chooses Zagreb County wine roads for their weekend destination. Therefore, Martina Paladina, director of the Samobor Tourist Board, Petra Masnec, director of the Tourist Board of Jastrebarsko, and my little tourist board decided to produce an interactive tool that would allow you to quickly find the desired location and a unified and complete list of destinations. Therefore, in the first phase of the project, we dedicated ourselves to the wine roads of our county, followed by accommodation and catering facilities and rural households," said the director of the Sveti Ivan Zelina Tourist Board and project coordinator Marinka Zubčić Mubrin, adding that the project established a basis for integrated gourmet tourism management to create a recognizable tourist destination product that they believe will be an excellent boost to the competitiveness of Zagreb County tourism.

Reducing the fragmentation of information and a more extensive overview of the gourmet offer of this area makes the decision easier for visitors. In addition, it opens new business opportunities for winemakers and other tourist activities.

Thus, domestic and foreign wine tourists, residents of Bregova Hrvatska, and all other passers-by who want to explore the wine roads of Zagreb County now have a new tool that makes it easier for them to find and travel to their favorite wine destinations.

The interactive virtual walk and web application are done by Otokar Crnalić from the 360 Provideo agency. The logo and wine list were created by Marko Jovanovac from the Symbol agency, while the GoWine website was made by Goran Kukočevac from Getim.

To read more about lifestyle in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Tuesday, 16 November 2021

Days of Traditional Croatian Flavors Begin in Zagreb County!

November 16, 2021 - The Days of Traditional Croatian Flavors began on November 15, jointly organized by 11 county tourist boards in cooperation with local restaurants and under the Ministry of Tourism and Sports. A press conference was held in Zagreb at the Zagreb County Tourist Board to present the culinary event officially. 

In the next 14 days, lovers of good food will be able to enjoy local dishes made from traditional ingredients and traditional recipes in 108 restaurants. Each facility will offer two menus of three courses at prices starting from 95 kn, 125 kn, or 195 kn. A list of all restaurants participating in the event can be found at www.okusi.hr.

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Twelve facilities are participating from the Zagreb County area, and carry the Zagreb Region Traditional Flavors standard. During this period, guests will be able to enjoy the traditional gastronomic specialties of the Zagreb region in the following facilities: Bistro Babriga (Velika Gorica), Ekopark Krašograd (Pisarovina), Hotel Bunčić (Vrbovec), Hotel Princess (Jastrebarsko), Restaurant Ivančić (Jastrebarsko), Izletište Suhina (Sveta Nedelja), Restaurant Samoborska klet (Samobor), Rural tourism Kezele (Ivanić-Grad), Rural household Stara preša (Šenkovec), Excursion site Vina Kos-Jurišić (Sveti Ivan Zelina), Restaurant Mon Ami (Velika Gorica) and Vinogradarska kuća Braje (Jastrebarsko).

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The Zagreb County Tourist Board continues with a series of promotional activities emphasizing the use of photographs as a means of communicating on social networks.

"Local gastronomy, with its flavors and aromas, as part of the culture, heritage, customs and everyday life of the people, is increasingly prominent in the world as an unavoidable component of the tourist offer. As a value and a new quality that provides experiences of something that is different. And what is different, no doubt, is what is local, original, and traditional. With this project, we all want to influence the preservation and promotion of identity and tradition and the image of our authentic, green and sustainable destination in general," said the director of the Zagreb County Tourist Board, Ivana Alilović.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Thursday, 4 November 2021

Discovering Authentic Croatia's Secrets With Seoski Tourism

November 4, 2021 – Village tourism or countryside tourism - Seoski tourism in Croatia - offers authentic, traditional experiences. Aleksandra Kuratko, secretary of Udruga ruralnog turizma Hrvatske (Croatian Rural Tourism Association) tells us more about it, and their work to help facilitate it

Croatia's visitor offer is evolving and expanding. There are exciting aspects of authentic Croatia to be discovered. Away from the beach, villages inland often look remarkably similar to how they did one hundred years ago. There, crops are grown and produce made in ways passed down through generations of families. And, in some lucky instances, these family farmers are willing to open their doors, invite you inside and show you how they live.

25_-_Pelje_ac_-_Bread_under_bell_at_Agroturizam_Antunovi_.jpgBread from the peka at Agroturizam Antunović on Pelješac

Seoski Tourism – translated as either village tourism or countryside tourism – is just that. Family farms that offer hospitality. These are some of the most homely and most welcoming accommodation experiences you can have in Croatia. Offering sights and sounds, tastes and flavours that you can't find anywhere else, visits or stays in Seoski Tourism places have long been loved by locals for weekend breaks or holidays outside peak summer. But, increasingly, these authentic Croatia experiences are being discovered by international visitors.

14_-_Moslavina_-_Goats_at_Kezele_family_farm.jpgMoslavina goats at Kezele family farm © Davor Konjikušić

One institution trying to facilitate the growth in interest is Udruga ruralnog turizma Hrvatske - Croatian Rural Tourism Association. Since it was formed in 2016, they have tried to bring together Croatia's family farm hosts, to promote them and educate them, and to build bridges between these independents and tourist boards, tourist agencies, educators and even the wider world outside Croatia.

16_-_Moslavina_-_renewed_traditional_house_at_Kezelefamily_farm.jpgSeoski turizam Kezele in Šumećani, on the border of Zagreb County and Bjelovar Bilogora County © Davor Konjikušić

Based in Ivanić-Grad, Zagreb County, the Croatian Rural Tourism Association is currently touring the length and breadth of the country, holding workshops with as many Seoski Tourism family farms that will come. And if the farmwork doesn't allow them free time, then they can attend Croatian Rural Tourism Association workshops online.

On the eve of the association's online Seoski Tourism workshops for Central Croatia and Slavonia, TCN interviewed Aleksandra Kuratko, secretary of Udruga ruralnog turizma Hrvatske, to find out more about Seoski Tourism in Croatia.

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My name is Aleksandra Kuratko and I am secretary of Udruga ruralnog turizma Hrvatske. As an association, we are 5 years old.

We have 35 members, most of whom are service providers in what we call Seoski Tourism. We also have several tourist boards and two educational institutions as members.

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Seoski tourism is not quite the same as rural tourism, because rural tourism is many different types of tourism that happen in rural areas. Seoski tourism - which you might translate as village tourism - is quite specific. We assemble people who work in agriculture and who, at the same time, are also offering hospitality. In English, you might call them Farm Stays. Or Agro-tourism – a merging of agriculture and tourism.

28_-_Pelje_ac_-_fresh_vegetables_from_Agroturizam_Antunovi_.jpgFresh vegetables at Agroturizam Antunović on Pelješac

People who work on agricultural estates often take care of local cultural heritage. For example, they might maintain and renew traditional wooden or stone houses. Many also have etno collections, in which they preserve different objects from their region. Some of these objects might have been used in agriculture and households hundreds of years ago. So, they are preserving the cultural heritage of Croatian villages. This is what we call material cultural heritage. But, there's another kind.

Ethno0017.jpgCultural heritage preserved in one Slavonian village © Mario Romulić

Non-material cultural heritage is also a part. That might be preserving old recipes of traditional, regionally-specific dishes. Or, it might be showcasing the songs and dance of local music.

We are currently running a project which is supported by the Croatian Ministry of Tourism and Sports in which we hold 37 Seoski Tourism workshops in the field all over Croatia. There will also be around 15 online workshops. The workshops are aimed at colleagues who currently operate in Seoski Tourism – they work in agriculture and offer hospitality. Also invited are local tourist boards and local action groups.

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So far, we conducted 20 workshops in the regions of Central Croatia, Slavonia and Baranja, and Podunavlje. From next week until the end of the year, we will conduct the workshops in Istria, Kvarner, Lika and Dalmatia. Some service providers were not able to attend earlier workshops, because of work commitments of Covid. So, we decided to also offer access to the workshops online. Tomorrow is our first online workshop for Central Croatia and on Friday it's the online workshop for Slavonia.

These workshops are interactive discussions between our association, service providers and all other stakeholders. We discuss the legislative framework, which can be extremely complex. We talk about new trends in tourism for the post-pandemic era. We also discuss the importance of integrating cultural heritage in digital promotion.

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For the legislative framework, we have initiated the formation of a working group for the development of Seoski Tourism, which is now operating in the Croatian Ministry of Tourism and Sports. So, at the workshops, we ask if anyone is having issues. We collect the responses and address them in the working group.

Part of the workshop is the presentation of a new web application of Seoski Tourism, which we have developed with Croatian Ministry of Tourism and Sports. It has two purposes. One is to create a digital catalogue of Croatian Seoski Tourism. You can see region by region some of the Seoski Tourism options – currently around 40, those who have already enrolled.

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A version of the app is currently available on the website of the National Tourist Board. But, they are building a new website. The forthcoming version of the catalogue will likely be more user-friendly with many more functions and options. On the new website, Croatia's Seoski Tourism options will be detailed in many different languages. It should be a great resource not only for tourists but for travel agencies, journalists like you and for educational institutions. That's the reason we are devoting time in our workshops to encourage Seoski Tourism providers to enroll. We are just at the beginning of the process.

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The second purpose of the app is to collect information about the service providers. This info will be used by our working group when defining a Croatian model of Seoski Tourism. So far, we have taken examples from Slovenia, Italy and other countries that are successful with Seoski Tourism. But, these models were entered into our legislative system without fully considering our distinct business and cultural environments. That is now about to change.

We are very happy that, following many years of partially successful advocacy, there is now political will at a ministerial level to really shape things up, to change the laws and regulations in order to facilitate Seoski Tourism. We want to encourage more Seoski Tourism, not to have people from agriculture being turned away because of the difficulty of the process and bureaucracy.

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You said part of the workshops will focus on new trends. What are some of these?

Research has been done by a working group that is developing a new tourism strategy for Croatia. It's called Strategy for Sustainable Tourism to 2030. Under the auspices of this group, a number of research fields have been analysed.

The collected data shows that a huge percentage of tourists are now more inclined to eat locally grown and healthy food. They want to spend their time on estates that are run in accordance with ecological principles. So, they really care about issues like how waste is disposed of etc. They also pay a lot of attention to culture. They are curious to learn exactly how we are living, how we are working and how we produce things. They want to learn about our society and culture. And, importantly, they really care about how they spend their money. Above all, they want to spend money in areas that can help support local communities.

17_-_Prigorje_-_Breakfast_at_Rakić_Family_Farm.jpgPrigorje Breakfast at Rakić Family Farm

For us, this is really important. Because Seoski Tourism answers these demands to an incredibly high level. We do produce local, healthy food. Not only on the agricultural estates where you can experience Seoski Tourism, but also from their neighbours who just do agriculture. We are concerned with ecology, we protect cultural heritage and the money spent in Seoski Tourism stays in local communities, where it has very beneficial effects.

In the digital promotion part of the workshops we are trying to persuade people about the importance of their online presence. Basically, these days, if you're not online, it's almost like you don't exist. So, we try to explain the importance of having good-quality photos, short videos and a regular online presence.

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That's interesting. In some cases, it might be like two different worlds colliding - people who work in a traditional industry and a traditional environment having to adapt to a very modern way of operating. There's also another potential collision when providers learn of the expectations within modern tourism. Because these people can no longer just work in agriculture. To operate in Seoski Tourism, you're also very much expected to also be a host.

Yes. All of our current service providers who are successful within Seoski Tourism are also great hosts. It's essential. You can see it in almost all of the reviews for this kind of tourism. Guests come for the food and drinks and surroundings, yes. But, what they value the most, what they remember the most, is the host part of the experience. On the estates of Croatian Seoski Tourism, guests are welcomed like family. Across all of Croatian tourism we are expected to be good hosts. It's part of our reputation and the reason why many people come here from all over the world. In Seoski Tourism, it is vital we live up to those expectations.

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Another aspect of this, which is a more recently-observed element, is that visitors often want an insight into the actual lives, even the personalities of their hosts. They want not only to taste the homemade sausages you make, but they also want to know how you do it, where you do it, how you learned to do that. When they go to Spain, they want to know how the people there make their wine. And, when they come to Croatia, they want to learn how we do it here.

So, all in all, those of us in Seoski Tourism are really busy. We are in agriculture, yes, but we are also in tourism and we are also online. With this more recently-observed aspect, we will need to try and devote even more time to our hosting. It can be difficult to balance the demands on your time. But, in our workshops, we are trying to persuade people to talk more about themselves, their lives, their cultural heritage. And, if there isn't time to do everything themselves, then to involve different and often younger generations of the family. Sometimes within the hosting or alternatively just with the online promotion and presence.

15_-_Moslavina_-_Kezele_family_farm_ethno_collection.jpgKezele family farm ethno collection © Davor Konjikušić

I've visited some family farms that were right at the start of their journey with Seoski Tourism and they seemed surprised that I was at all interested in what they do and how they do it. I think maybe they thought I was a bit crazy.

Yes, that is a response we sometimes also see at first. I think it's because our generation takes a lot of things for granted. We sometimes think that what we do is just what we do. We are not so good at showcasing it. “Why would I show someone how I make my cheese? I make my cheese like my grandmother used to make it” But, for those who open their doors to Seoski Tourism, inquiries about how they do what they do are only increasing. So, they seem to appreciate how we advise them in the workshops.

5_-_Me_imurje_-_Picnic_by_Me_imurski_dvori_restaurant.jpgPicnic by Restaurant Međimurski dvori © Igor Nobilo

We are trying to let our producers know that Seoski Tourism is not just a platform to sell their produce and an overnight stay, but it's a full experience they can sell. There are agricultural farms in Austria that are established in tourism that you must pay only to visit. Of course, that doesn't happen currently anywhere in Croatia, even though some of our Seoski Tourism estates have sections that look like museums.

Some of these aspects are very new. And the feedback is great. I truly believe there are hidden treasures to be discovered in some Croatian villages. We are here to tell that story.

IMG_0239fghj.jpgSelection of food from a Slavonian village © Mario Romulić

What is so rewarding about Croatian Seoski Tourism that international visitors would want to go to a traditional farm in some inland village instead of lying on the beach in Dalmatia for 14 days?

People come because they really want to see a different side of Croatia. And, there are many different aspects of Croatia to discover – not just Seoski Tourism, but also National Parks and Nature Parks. All of our current trends show us that more and more tourists are willing to come inland from the coast or to explore a different part of Croatia – inland Istria, for example, or continental Croatia.

20_-_Karlovac_-_Kamačnik_river_canyon.jpgKamačnik river canyon © Aleksandra Kuratko Pani

They really want to try authentic, local food. They want to eat healthy, to know what they are eating and how it is made. And, they want to experience flavours that are different from the usual ones they get from the supermarket.

6_-_Me_imurje_-_Traditional_Me_imurje_table_at_etno_restaurant_Me_imurski_dvori.jpgTraditional Međimurje table at Etno restaurant Međimurski dvori

Also, I would say that with Seoski Tourism, people get to know better an authentic version of Croatia and its culture. It's a story we hear very often from our members. Some of them are visited by large groups from cruisers. These are people who might be on a cruise on the Adriatic and who journey inland for a day trip. Or, it might be a group who are cruising the Danube and disembark to visit a family farm in Slavonia, Baranja or Srijem.

24_-__ibenik_-_Drnis_prosciutto_Ivana_Kalpi__Agroturizam_Kalpi_.jpgProsciutto from Drniš at Agrotourism Kalpić © Ivana Kalpić

When they visit farming estates on day trips, it's very often a huge 'wow' moment for them. For many, in their minds, Croatia is simply sun and sea. And that's not entirely their fault. We, as a country, have done very little until now to promote alternative sides of Croatia. The visitors experience these wow moments because of the hospitality they receive and because of the tangible aspect of the visit. This is a modern aspect – people want to touch things, know how things feel, taste, smell. They want to ride on horses or feed them. Or take part in cultural activities. These parts of a visit to Seoski Tourism are very difficult to experience anywhere else.

img_0261.jpg__648x432_q85_subsampling-2.jpg(left) Ivana Alilović, director of Zagreb County Tourist Board (right) Aleksandra Kuratko, secretary of Udruga ruralnog turizma Hrvatske (Croatian Rural Tourism Association) © Zagreb County

Udruga ruralnog turizma Hrvatske's online Seoski Tourism workshops begin today and their physical workshops continue next week in Istria.

If you'd like to read more about rural tourism in Croatia, then look here

Friday, 22 October 2021

Interview: Wild Mushroom Hunting in Zagreb County in Autumn

October 22, 2021 – There's a riot of colour in the branches of trees right now. What better time to go mushroom hunting in Zagreb County?

Autumn in Croatia is the perfect time to explore nature. The country's mountainous regions are currently being enjoyed by walkers and hikers. In less hilly regions, people take to walking the forests and riversides. There, an eruption of colour as the trees respond to the season – red, orange, yellow, purple, brown. Autumn's colours are epic. But, they're not around forever. Catch them while you can.

One resident who is sure to take in the full range of autumn's splendor is Hrvoje Banaj. An outdoor enthusiast from near Zagreb, at weekends, he can be found exploring the forests and mountain of Medvednica, or somewhere else around Zagreb County. He's been walking the woods since he was a child, accompanied by his father, who taught Hrvoje about mushrooms.

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You can collect wild mushrooms across much of Croatia. But, Hrvoje thinks mushroom hunting in Zagreb County is particularly good. Certainly, you can find a surprising bounty in the woods of Zagreb County, as TCN found out last year on a truffle hunting trip.

There are groups of wild mushroom enthusiasts in Croatia. Also, you can find some expert forest guides who know about identifying edible mushrooms in the wild. However, it's not incredibly common to come across someone in Croatia who has that knowledge and who speaks English. Therefore, we couldn't pass up the opportunity to speak with Hrvoje to ask him a little about his experience of mushroom hunting in Zagreb County.

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My name is Hrvoje. I grew up in Zaprešić and I still live there. I attended university in Zagreb, where I studied German language and literature and phonetics. Also, my first course was organ playing. I'm a concert organist.

I've been hunting mushrooms since I was 5 or 6 years old. A very early age. My father was a lifelong forest engineer. So, it was a normal part of his work to go into the woods at all times of year, and discover what was there. For him too, mushrooms were a focus of interest.

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He'd been going into the woods since he was 13 or 14 and learned about the different kinds of mushrooms from several older, experienced people. As an adult, he bought two detailed books about mushrooms which he learned from additionally. Of course, I read them too. There was no internet back then. We still have those books.

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My dad's work was all around Zagreb and Zagreb County. Often, he would take me with him. He has been retired for a few years now. He no longer has the passion for it as he had had back in the years when he worked. But, I still go mushroom hunting in Zagreb County and I love it.

You can find lots of different kinds of mushrooms all over Croatia. I've explored the woods and picked mushrooms across much of the inland of the country.

In Zagreb County, the edible mushrooms I've personally seen are; Morels, Chicken of the Woods and all kinds of Porcini mushrooms. Also, Hedgehog mushroom – one of my favourites to eat - and all kinds of Puffballs. I saw a Giant Polypore recently too, while I was walking on Sljeme.

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You find Chanterelles and Parasol mushrooms here, sometimes in large numbers. Horn of Plenty and Horse mushroom you also see a lot. Several types of Russula mushrooms grow here. I've never seen a St George's mushroom here. But, I saw and ate them in Slavonia. My father has roots there, so I've visited a lot.

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Although autumn is usually associated with mushroom picking, that's actually a widespread misperception. It's true that some of the more popular and well-known wild mushrooms are most common in autumn. That's probably where this thinking comes from.

Actually, mushrooms grow all year round in Croatia. Some kinds you only usually see in the springtime. Similarly, many people believe that you have to go into forests to find mushrooms. But, some edible mushrooms in Croatia actually prefer to live in direct sunlight and you can find them at the sides of fields.

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If you want to go truffle or wild mushroom hunting in Zagreb County, it's best to go with a guide. You can find out more about guides and groups from Zagreb County Tourist Board here.

You can see all the different types of edible mushrooms that grow in the wild in Croatia here.

All photos used were taken in Zagreb County and come from the private collection of Hrvoje Banaj, unless otherwise accredited

Wednesday, 6 October 2021

Via Vino: Zagreb Wineries Meet Autumn Art, Music, Food & Cinema

October 6, 2021 - Just a short drive from the Zagreb is part of Croatia's fantastic wine story. A new autumn initiative from the Zagreb County Tourist Board brings art, music, food and cinema to Zagreb's vineyards. Meet Via Vino. 

One of the things that visitors to Zagreb often comment on is just how accessible it is.With its abundant parks, it is a great city to walk in. 

Those who are a little more adventurous are discovering just how accessible - and fascinating - the region around Zagreb is. The launch of the Around Zagreb initiative last year, bringing the very best of the city of Zagreb, Zagreb County, and now also Zagorje, has added a new dimension to Zagreb tourism.  

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The Zagreb County Tourist Board has been particularly active in recent times promoting the authentic treasures of the region, as well as helping to bring the indigenous products of its producers to the market. One small example of this is the development of the Zagreb truffle hunt, something that perhaps even many locals are not aware of. Local producers are bying into the brand of authentic Zagreb County and its local products, and one can now enjoy Zagreb truffles in strukli, as well as pralines. And the latest Zagreb truffle delicacy was unveiled at the Via Vino press conference this morning - ajvar with black truffles. 

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A new initiative called Via Vino has been launched by the Zagreb County Tourist Board, which was unveiled at a press conference in their office in Zagreb this morning, complete with new promotional video of the wine roads of Zagreb County. The Croatian capital is blessed with several wine regions surrounding the city on all sides - Sveta Ivana Zelina, Samobor, Jastrebarsko, Ivanic-Grad, and Zapresic. 

From October 15 to November 15, the wineries of Zagreb County will be welcoming visitors to experience their wines, while also combining that experience with some signature events combining art, food, wine and music. 

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Via Vinaria takes place every Friday and Saturday within the month, when more than 50 wineries in Zagreb County will open their cellar doors for wine tasting. A great day out from the city, and a chance to enjoy the county's alluring nature while sampling its finest wines. 

Looking to catch the latest Bond movie in some style?  Via KINO is the place to be on October 15 at the Braje vineyard in Plesivica, where chestnuts and Portugiesac will accompany 007's final mission. Additional sustenance will be provided by Marin Medak and his Food Truck.

Via KINO will take place on October 23rd. in the central park of Velika Gorica. Although this is not a wine region, the screening of the film will feature an exhibition of photographs of winemakers, accompanied by homemade spirits by Brigljević distillates and gin. As this area is known for truffle hunting, you will have the opportunity to taste truffles in typically continental dishes.

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Via VINO will also enrich the Via ART event, which takes you along the picturesque Samobor road of pleasures, with recognizable wines, selected delicacies and an exhibition in the vineyard! It takes place on November 6 and follows the well-known feast of St. Martin, patron saint of winemakers. Take a look at the exhibition of photographs of winemakers from Zagreb County in the Samobor Museum.

Have you ever experienced a classical music concert in a vineyard? A good wine is like a good concert, it lasts a short time, but it is remembered for a lifetime. It’s new in every sip and changes with each new note. Therefore Via NOTE on October 16 brings concerts to the fairytale environment of the falling slopes of the vineyards of the Schwartz manor in Nespeš, in Sv. Zelini. The atmosphere will be enriched by the offer of dishes from Food Truck by Marin Medak, as well as a selection of wines from the Litterarii winery.

"We all already know that Zagreb County is the green living room of Zagreb. It offers sustainable tourism, numerous outdoor facilities but also an unforgettable eno-gastronomic experience, 365 days a year," said the director of the Zagreb County Tourist Board Ivana Alilović.

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"As a year-round destination, it offers new facilities every season. Thus, our wine roads and events related to eno-gastronomic content are currently very attractive. The rich gastronomic offer and the increasingly strong development and branding of wine roads - from Plešivica to Zelina and Ivanić-Grad as the home of škrlet - are one of the strongest assets for the tourist and economic development of Zagreb County.

"We are proud that for the first time the Zagreb County Tourist Board is conducting such a large destination campaign in which over 60 key entities in the area of ​​the Zagreb County wine scene are participating. For us, this is a big step towards positioning the entire Zagreb County as an authentic boutique destination." 

For visits to wineries it is necessary to make an appointment in advance.

Admission to the events is limited, and for those who do not have a Covid passport at the entrance, a Covid test will be organized which is included in the ticket price.

The Via VINO event is organized by the Zagreb County Tourist Board, who you can contact for more information.

Learn more about the direction of tourism in Zagreb County in this TCN interview with Zagreb County Tourist Board director Ivana Alilović.

Sunday, 5 September 2021

Žumberak Samobor Protected by Zagreb County TZ via Sustainable Tourism

September 5, 2021 – In a series of spectacular new photos, we see this vast, beautiful park and learn of Zagreb County Tourist Board's efforts to balance preserving nature, improving the park's visitor offer and implementing development necessary for the quality of life of the local population, via sustainable tourism and the EU-sponsored Pronacul project.

Žumberačka_polja.jpg© J. Škof

For residents of Zagreb County, City of Zagreb and their visitors, the most convenient thing about Žumberak Samobor Mountains Nature Park is that it's right on your doorstep. Less than 90 minutes drive to the west of the Croatian capital, it's an easy escape into a spectacular natural landscape; epic, rolling hills, gushing waterfalls and streams beside which historic water mills lie.

Mlin.jpg© J. Škof

It's the perfect place to go to free yourself of the noise, pressure and stress of life in the city. Particularly if you love hiking or cycling. There are 300 kilometres of cycling routes and 350 kilometres of hiking trails through Žumberak Samobor Mountains Nature Park. That's plenty to explore.

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In total, a vast 342m2 of beautiful rural landscape is protected as a Nature Park. Partly, what makes Žumberak Samobor Mountains area so charming is that it is a topography that has been moulded by its inhabitants. Their agricultural efforts can be traced in the lines of fields, the dry stone walls, the crops, animals and produce found here. Their piety is the reason for the rich wealth of historic sacral buildings you can visit in the park.

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But, this is an area that has undergone extreme population decline over recent decades. In fact, the park area is one of the least densely populated places in Croatia. The agricultural endeavours that helped shaped this pretty place are nowhere near as popular as they once were. However, the park is still inhabited. Traditional life can still be seen in Žumberak Samobor Mountains.

Miroslav.JPG© Miroslav Vajdić

One of the best ways to preserve this beautiful Nature Park, the lifestyles and endeavours of those who live there, is to receive visitors. Visiting such thrilling epic nature is so rewarding in itself, its strange to think that just be being there you're helping to preserve it.

Pronacul: Balancing Tourism, Development and Preservation of Nature

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Žumberak Samobor Mountains Nature Park and Zagreb County Tourist Board have long been working to balance 1) the preservation of the protected area, 2) increasing and improving the park's visitor offer and 3) implementing development necessary for the quality of life of the local population.

It is to that end that Zagreb County Tourism Board have submitted Žumberak Samobor Mountains Nature Park to join the EU-sponsored Pronacul project. Joining partners in Slovenia, Italy, Greece, Serbia and Bosnia in the scheme, Pronacul's key aim is the promotion of natural and cultural heritage and the development of sustainable tourism in protected areas. The total value of the project is 1.770.348,98 EUR.

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For more ideas of great places to visit and great things to do in Zagreb County, be sure to read our dedicated pages here

Wednesday, 4 August 2021

Zagreb County Employment Rate Rises by 3.3 Percent

August the 4th, 2021 - The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has threatened jobs like never before, with countries which rely very heavily on tourism suffering unimaginable uncertainty. Croatia is one of them. Things are slowly recovering however, and the Zagreb County employment rate has risen.

Economic issues in Croatia weren't ''born'' when the pandemic struck the globe, but they were certainly made exponentially worse with intermittent lockdowns and issues with transport, travel and tourism. While the Zagreb County employment rate perhaps isn't the one you'd expect to see much growth in comparison to the coast, things are looking up.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, with the highest total revenue of 6.1 billion kuna in 2020 and the largest number of employees - 2,377, Lidl Hrvatska (Croatia) from Velika Gorica neat the City of Zagreb maintained its dominant role among leading companies based in Zagreb County.

The largest exporter was the company Hospira Zagreb from Prigorje Brdovecki (809.5 million kuna), according to Fina, which, for the pandemic-dominated year of 2020, shows a good picture of Zagreb County's economy in which 9258 enterprises had their headquarters last year. With its 63,044 employees, there is a 3.3 percent increase in Zagreb County employment levels.

The average monthly net salary for Zagreb County employees amounted to 6,144 kuna, which is 2.7 percent higher than it was back in 2019 and 2.9 percent higher than the average for that category at the Croatian level.

According to the processed AFS for 2020, companies operating in this continental Croatian county achieved 56.9 billion kuna of total revenues (0.1 percent more than back in 2019).

Compared to other counties, Zagreb County is highly ranked according to a number of indicators: it is in fifth place according to the number of companies headquartered there, third according to the number of employees, second according to total revenues and realised net profit, and number one according to the indicator of labour productivity measured by net profit and the number of employees, making it the country's best in that regard at the moment.

For more, follow our lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Successful Tourist Board Synergy: Around Zagreb Promotes Capital and Surroundings

June 22, 2021 - The Zagreb Tourist Board and the Zagreb County Tourist Board are again cooperating in promoting Zagreb and its surroundings through a unique destination campaign - Near the city, Near the heart / Around Zagreb. 

Near the City, Near the Heart is a joint promotional campaign created to develop a year-round platform to promote the rich offer of the capital and its surroundings, reports HRTurizam.

In this sense, as a destination campaign, it addresses key markets, promoting the outdoors, greenery, and nature with a focus on health and sustainability, and raising awareness of Zagreb and its surroundings as a desirable environment and tourist destination.

This year's edition of the campaign introduces certain novelties, and they are presented in more detail by the director of the Tourist Board, Martina Bienenfeld: “The success of the campaign so far has prompted us to improve our platform and present it to key markets. So - with a refreshed visual and itineraries - we created a new section, 'Did you know?' which presents interesting things from our environment. We are now launching the campaign in the markets of Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia, and Germany, and we will soon expand it through cooperation with Krapina-Zagorje County."

"The campaign will be conducted online through advertorials and banners for a month. Advertorials will be adapted linguistically for each individual market and will present a rich cultural offer, with a focus on living in greenery, recreation, and sustainable tourism, all through interesting stories that present the current offer of Zagreb and its ring," explains Darja Dragoje from TZGZ.

In the last two years, the cooperation between these two tourist boards has grown into a whole series of campaigns and concrete tourist products that the guests of the capital can enjoy. The profession also recognized the partnership cooperation of these tourist boards as an example of cooperation in the field that brings very concrete results to all stakeholders.

The Zagreb County Tourist Board director, Ivana Alilović, says: "Domestic and foreign tourists do not think about administrative borders, but about the content. Precisely for this reason, the cooperation between the tourist boards of Zagreb and Zagreb County was logical. I am delighted that the director of Binenfield recognized the great potential of Zagreb County because Zagreb and the ring together are stronger. We have combined urban and rural, and with health and cultural tourism, rich outdoor content, and authentic enogastro offer, we have made this destination even more attractive. The enogastro service will focus on the new campaign, which with new visuals tells a new story of a metropolis and its surroundings, which complement each other with quality and rounded tourist products. With such facilities, we extend the stay of guests in both destinations."

The entire offer is united on aroundzagreb.hr, and information is currently available in Croatian, English, German and Slovenian.

For more, follow our travel section.

Tuesday, 8 June 2021

Gorica Evenings Celebrates 45th Edition With An Outdoor Cultural Program

June 8, 2021 - After more than four decades of successfully organizing an enriching cultural program aimed at people of all ages, Gorica Evenings will celebrate its 45th edition in style with concerts, cinema, theater, art, and more in the open air from this Thursday 10 to June 20 in Velika Gorica.

For the 45th year in a row, the Gorica Evenings have enriched the tourist and cultural offer of Velika Gorica, but also of the Zagreb County in general. The traditional event is organized by the Velika Gorica Public Open University in cooperation with associations and other Velika Gorica organizations, reports Turističke Priče.

In addition to a diverse cultural program, Gorica evenings are a combination of open-air concerts, theater performances, open-air cinemas, children's programs, and more. This year's 45th edition of the event runs from 10 to 20 June at two locations in the center of Velika Gorica, in Dr. Franjo Tuđman and Stjepan Radić Square, brings a rich program for children and adults.

Interesting plays are intended for theater audiences and children, and the first is scheduled by Tonka Bontonka Scene Gorica. This play for children will also be the first event of the 45th Gorica Evenings. There are also lectures for art history lovers at the Galženica Gallery, as well as performances, which will be presented to the public by participants in the Drama Studio and Guitar Course of the Velika Gorica Public Open University.

The Gorica evenings will be enhanced by klapas, which will present their acapella singing repertoire. It will be at a meeting that will serve as an overture for the Omis Festival. The youngest will show their creativity at workshops for children.

Fans of the seventh art will come to theirs every Wednesday. Namely, Dr. Franjo Tuđman Park will host the Open-Air Summer Cinema, which will show Hollywood blockbusters, animated dubbed films, and comedies. Screenings are scheduled for 6 and 8 p.m.

The highlight of the Gorica evenings will be, as always, open-air concerts. In addition to Gorizia's Mungos and the already traditional VG Blues, Rock & Country festival, Klapa Kampanel and the popular Bosutski bećari will sing and play.

For more on lifestyle in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Monday, 7 June 2021

Zagreb Beyond the City: County Tourist Board Director Ivana Alilovic Interview

 June 7, 2021 - Despite the pandemic, there have been a lot of new initiatives from tourism in Zagreb and the surrounding area in the last 12 months. Meet one of the driving forces behind this - Zagreb County Tourist Board Director, Ivana Alilovic.

1.One of the most interesting new tourism initiatives in 2020 was the launch of the AroundZagreb.hr, which brought the tourism offer of the city and the county together for the first time. Tell us a little about the project, how it started and the results so far. 

The promotion of Zagreb and its surroundings is a project that was planned over 10 months before its release, and we successfully implemented the campaign. This is the first time that our two tourist boards are cooperating in partnership and we are happy that we have created a real destination campaign and that we are working together to promote our capital and its surroundings. The joint cooperation was created as a result of mutual trust and partnership, and with our first cooperation and complementarity we show that even in these extraordinary conditions there is always the possibility to create great projects, because tourism knows no borders.

The friendship between Zagreb and Zagreb County is expressed in these extraordinary circumstances, mutually confirming mutual trust and partnership, which resulted in the destination campaign "Close to the city, close to the heart". In preparation, we followed the trends in the travel market and then we launched a joint campaign in three foreign languages: English, German, Slovenian and, of course, Croatian.

At a time when the health situation is under the magnifying glass everywhere in the world, when it is important to adhere to new rules of social behavior, when we want to return to the basics - family, friends, nature and closest business partners, business and tourist travel trends are changing. This is exactly how the new offer of Zagreb and its surroundings began, which focuses on staying in nature, green city oases and staying outdoors in general, with an emphasis on health, safety and sustainability.

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(Photo credit Robert Klaric)

"Around Zagreb" brings numerous ideas for inspiring trips, creative examples of how to spend, for example, three days in Zagreb and its surroundings, the most interesting gastronomic recommendations and a list of cultural and entertainment events to truly get to know the Croatian capital and the beautiful green ring that surrounds it.

The platform is continuously updated with new materials and suggestions and for now the feedback is excellent.

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2. You have not been in the job that long, but one can already notice a lot more energy in the Zagreb county promotion, including some rather surprising tourism products not promoted before. Truffle hunting close to Zagreb Airport? Really?!? Tell us more. 

Yes, that is true. We started to work actively to promote gastro branding ‘Turopolje and Zagreb County’, although Istria is synonymous for truffles, black truffles can be found in Turopolje and Žumberak area. It is important to point out that in May 2020 we started promoting a new attraction ‘black truffle hunting’ in ‘Turopoljski lug’ and offered visitors a new and innovative tourist product, for which there is a growing interest and interest of tourists. We have also established a value chain of the catering offer in a short period of time, we have started with the promotion and innovative approach to the development of the gastronomic offer with truffles in combination with the autochthonous cuisine of the Zagreb County.

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The fact that there are black truffles in Turopolje is a great potential for our destination. We made a promo video about truffle hunting and you can also taste them in local restaurants.

It is necessary to connect value chains, to create new tourist products in the destination, only in these new times we can be an attractive destination for all of us.

The emphasis is on sustainable, green and above all safe tourism in the green ring of Zagreb. First of all, discover the undiscovered from today, take home the unforgettable memory of truffle hunting.

Croatian Forests’ and the Zagreb County Tourist Board signed an Agreement on Business Cooperation for the Purpose of Promoting truffle and truffle-related tourism.

The agreement was signed with the aim of joint cooperation in promoting truffle growing, research and development of the Center for Mushroom Research, as well as publishing and branding truffle growing in the forest area of Zagreb County.

It is necessary to develop the awareness of the local population and partners, and cooperation with ‘Croatian Forests’ gives us a flywheel because it is necessary to define the market and have support in the use of the forest area of Zagreb County, which is managed by ‘Croatian Forests’ for the purpose of developing the project "truffle hunting" and similar projects or events for the purpose of promoting truffle farming. I believe that we are on the right path for truffles to become a brand and a motive for coming to Zagreb County.

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(Photo credit Sveta Nedjelja Tourist Board)

3. How hard is it to attract tourists in the city to come and discover the county, and what are your main strategies to entice them?

Since the beginning of the crisis, I emphasize that special focus and demand will be on continental and rural tourism. But just as continental destinations, despite all the challenges, need to impose and position themselves. This is exactly what we did with the platform and the "Odmor nikad bliže" campaign. The goal is, of course, to position the entire Zagreb green ring towards Zagreb as much as possible as an ideal weekend destination close to the city bustle. Judging by all the market research and data from the eVisitor system, it can be seen that we have hit the niche well with our campaign. We wanted to position ourselves and send a message that guests in our county can stay in a green, rural and protected environment. And all just half an hour from Zagreb. At the moment when everything stopped, it was necessary to react and position ourselves, so we decided to start the campaign and we did not hesitate in that segment, it turned out to be a complete success. We need to keep up with innovative trends such as the digital revolution, ever-higher environmental standards and the sustainable development of local communities. It is necessary the development of eno-gastronomy, cultural tourism which is promoted as one of the motives for coming to the destination. I emphasize that authenticity, security and nature are the key trends in tourism.

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(Zagreb County Tourist Board Director Ivana Alilovic, left, has been tirelessly promoting the authentic local products on offer in the region)

4. I was certainly surprised at the wealth of tourism options just outside the city, all of which can be enjoyed during a day trip. Give us a little flavour of what awaits with five of your most recommended things to see and do. 

I would definitely first suggest a visit to our web platform “Odmor nikad bliže”/Vacation in Zagreb County “which aims to inform readers about tourist products of Zagreb County such as wine roads, holiday homes, gastronomic offers and micro destinations that are located in the county and tell the reader that the holiday was never closer.

I always recommend going to Samobor, with its preserved old town and numerous cultural sights, is a lure for excursionists not only because of its charm but also because of the beautiful green surroundings. Mountains and hills, vineyards, forests, streams, picturesque villages, old forts, caves, irresistible local food and a fine drop - all this awaits you in a geographically small, but crowded area near Zagreb, which is our flagship of tourism.

Between Samobor and Zagreb is Sveta Nedelja, which is deservedly on the list of the most visited destinations. We suggest a tour of the lakes Rakitje, Orešje, Kerestinec and Strmec. It is your choice whether to indulge in fishing, recreation or just enjoying the preserved nature, in the company of many birds that like to gather here. Along Lake Kerestinec, the view will surely attract you to the neglected medieval castle of Erdödy, the scene of a turbulent history. A return to the 21st century offers a tourist tour of the world-famous electric car factory Rimac Automobili, which sends its innovations to the world from the Holy Sunday plant.

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Among the most visited destinations in Zagreb County is Ivanić-Grad, known for the gastronomic festival Bučijada or wine festival Škrletovo, a pleasure for the taste buds, and not far from the center is the unique Naftalan, a spa built on the only European source of medicinal oil, which also offers excellent wellness services.

Traditionally, the most visited destination is located in Turopolje, a quiet, mostly lowland rural area with an abundance of untouched nature, rich cultural heritage and an interesting past. Its center is Velika Gorica, the largest city in Zagreb County, and the best starting point for research.

At the foot of Plešivica is the town of Jastrebarsko, and on the Plešivica hills you will often see hawks in the air, which were bred for hunting in the Middle Ages and the town was named after them. A place with a long history for hundreds of years, it is the natural center of this area and the starting point for excursions around the area and one of our most visited destinations.

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(Photo credit Tibor Grujic Marivo)

5. You also ran a great campaign before Christmas on buying local authentic products. Tell us a little about that, and which products were a hit?

We had a campaign called “Christmas magic in your home” with which we wanted to raise awareness of the importance of buying local products at this time of pandemic. Each destination has its own authentic story and its own local products and souvenirs. Zagreb County is rich in craftsmen. It is full of hardworking people who turn the natural resources of their homeland into unique, local products. One of the goals of the Zagreb County Tourist Board is to raise the world about the importance of buying from local producers and helping producers in branding and promoting products that we can be proud of.

The dedicated work of small craftsmen, artists and manufactories from our area should be especially emphasized because these products deserve all the attention. Combining traditional and modern, their creativity refreshes the heritage and enriches the entire offer of their region. I think this year hit were fabulous 'strukli with truffles' and the Zagreb County truffle praline.

We are very proud of the intangible cultural heritage of Zagreb County. The most popular dessert, ‘Samoborska kremšnita’, is now legally protected as an autochthonous Samobor - Croatian brand.

Also, autochthonous gastronomic product of the Zagreb County ‘Rudarska greblica’ has been approved a protected designation of geographical origin at the European level. With this label, ‘Rudarska greblica’ becomes the 29th Croatian product with a protected name in the European Union and the first protected gastronomic product in the Zagreb County.

This is a great compliment to the originality and preservation of our tradition, especially when today we have the first recognition for the ‘Rudarska greblica’ to which the European Union has established intellectual property rights. The Zagreb area has contributed to the Croatian and, as of today, European list of protected geographical indications, which emphasizes the relationship between a particular geographical region and product name, where the special quality, reputation or other characteristics of the product can mainly be attributed to its geographical origin.

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6. The pandemic is hanging over everything. How do you even prepare for a tourist season with such uncertainty? What kind of season are you expecting?

In these difficult, uncertain and challenging times it is hard to anticipate results and expectations but what we know for sure is that the main criteria will be the epidemiological situation. So, the success of the tourist season and tourist results is subordinated to the epidemiological situation.

The trend of staying in nature and turning to rural areas will continue this year as well. People's habits have changed and staying in nature, excursions and escape from mass tourism will surely mark this year as well. We can say that the results of surveys conducted by some sales platforms in tourism are now the most relevant for assessing and planning activities in the tourism sector. According to indicators, from 60 to almost 80% of guests are ready to go on vacation this year as soon as the epidemiological situation with Covid-19 allows. So, there is still an unquenchable hunger for travel. A stronger opening is to be expected only in the 2nd quarter of 2021, which strengthens our assessment of the reorientation of our activities to domestic tourism. The trend is to stay in nature, excursions and escapes will surely mark this year as well. Zagreb County will remain the most attractive weekend destination and I am sure that this year we will record increased interest in our destinations in the ‘Zagreb Green Ring’. The emphasis will be on safety and hygiene, new markets, and purpose travel and going to near destinations. Zagreb County will remain the most attractive weekend destination and we will certainly record increased interest in all destinations of the ‘Zagreb Green Ring’ this year as well.

In March 2021 Zagreb County announced a million-worthy competition for grant support to entrepreneurs in tourism. Grants are awarded for the renovation and equipping of accommodation units and the development and improvement of additional facilities such as swimming pools, wellness and other recreational, sports and entertainment facilities. The pandemic will pass, tourists will come again and that is why we support entrepreneurs to add value to their accommodation facilities.

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(Photo credit Ivanic Grad Tourist Board)

7. Where do you see the potential for tourism growth for Zagreb county?

This ‘new time’ requires a personalized, honest and thorough approach to the guest, who wants to experience the local community in an authentic way based on experience. The focus is on a new meaning in sustainable coexistence with local communities, nature, culture and history of these areas. Since our destinations abound in many additional facilities from wine roads, cultural routes, untouched nature of Žumberak which offers you detoxification from the hustle and bustle of the capital, intangible cultural heritage with the stamp of Europe you can taste, truffle hunting, castles, promenades, educational trails… We are yet a year-round and attractive destination. The trend of interest in holiday homes on the continent is constantly growing. We definitely need to raise the quality of accommodation because there is a great demand for holiday homes in rural accommodation and that is why this tender is a complete success because we will raise the quality and strengthen the content and very soon, we will have concrete progress.

We are aware of the potential that our destination has. For example, we have a strong scene with domestic distilleries engaged in the artisanal production of gin, which is in a big positive trend with craft breweries. Also, special attention is needed to health tourism as one of the fastest growing tourist products, given that in Ivanić-Grad there is a “Special Hospital Naftalan” where work was done on the reconstruction and extension. With cycling and bike trails, a green story and all of the above, we can conclude that we have great potential, which we must turn into quality resources.

It is of great importance to us to unite Zagreb County tourist boards for the purpose of networking, intensive cooperation and joint action of Zagreb County tourist boards and relevant stakeholders with the aim of intensive promotion of the ‘Zagreb Green Ring’ region and existing tourist products and programs. Our goal is certainly integrated quality management of the Zagreb County tourist destination product, which will reduce the gap between the level of quality that tourists expect and the level of quality that the destination is able to provide and deliver, improving the quality and content of Zagreb County tourism product, increasing tourist satisfaction and tourist spending in Zagreb County and the benefits for entrepreneurship in tourism. 

Also, Zagreb County Tourist Board is the organizer of the photo competition for the selection of the most beautiful photographs of the Zagreb County, called "Photo Zagreb County". The purpose of the competition is to show the cultural and historical sights and traditions of Zagreb County, a story or experience from one of the events, active vacation in nature or rural areas, which will further promote the visit and research of Zagreb County.

Our vision is to create the identity of the destination, and in order to realize that vision, the process must be alive for all visitors and tourists who come to the destination. With our photo competition we want to see a unique experience, based on the feeling and experience of the destination, and through the lens of each of us to highlight the unique attributes of a particular destination with what makes it different from the others, authentic. In this way, we want to influence the preservation and promotion of identity and tradition and the image of the destination in general.

8. And finally, tell us about your favorite place and favorite thing to do in Zagreb county? 

The whole county is attractive as a tourist destination, each part of it has its own peculiarities and similaritie. Since we are located in the wine-growing region of 'Bregovita Hrvatska', it is certainly a great pleasure to visit our valuable winemakers. Check-out coopers collection Golub family, which is designed as a permanent exhibition at the ground floor of the old house.

Feel the spirit of old times and visit Mlinareva Iža, the original miller's house where the miller's family once lived. The sacral heritage consists of numerous churches and chapels of the Jaska region that attract the attention of every passer-by. Jastrebarsko is an ideal destination for lovers of active tourism and nature. Explore every corner by bike, on foot or by air because there are many opportunities: bike trails and routes (Jaska Bike), hiking, horseback riding, orienteering, motocross, and for those looking for adrenaline - paragliding from Japetić or Plešivica.

I would definitely recommend tasting local products in Zagreb County.

In a relatively short period of time, three good news came from Samobor, after the ‘Rudarska greblica’, Samobor kremšnita’ and the ‘Samobor češnofka’ became a protected product. Protection at national level is an important first step towards gaining the status it deserves on the European gastronomic map. The diligent hands of the people of this region write the history of taste, and it is up to us to taste them and experience this original story with all our senses.

To learn more about the magic of Zagreb beyond the city, visit the Zagreb County Tourist Board website

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